CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A bill proposed by State Rep. Carrie Isaac (R) would prohibit polling locations on college campuses throughout the state.
House Bill 2390 was filed Thursday in the Texas Legislature. In a release, Isaac said it is a matter of school safety.
“Here in Texas, we have one of the longest early voting periods of any state in the nation, two weeks of early voting,” Isaac said. “I don’t believe it’s wise that we invite people onto our campuses that would not otherwise be there.”
Isaac said she’s also working on a bill to ban polling places at K-12 public and charter schools.
But many people do not agree with Isaac's views, including State Sen. José Menéndez (D) and Sen. Nathan Johnson (D).
The two filed an opposite bill in November, which would require at least one main campus polling location for higher education institutions with at least 5,000 students. It would also require two campus locations for institutions with at least 10,000 students plus another voting site for every additional 10,000 students enrolled.
Voting rights advocates say the bill is a targeted attack on the political power of young voters. MOVE Texas, a group that mobilizes young voters, condemned the bill saying, it could attempt to silence young voters.
"This is all about access," Alex Birnel for MOVE Texas said. "Whenever you're eliminating polling locations, you're eliminating a place where somebody can exercise their right. If we can get a young college voter to participate, their engagement in voting for a lifetime could be greater. This is a way to undercut the rising power of young voters."
Some students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi said it's concerning to know they may not have the nearby accessibility or the opportunity to cast their vote between classes.
"If it's out of the way to vote, people just aren't going to do it," Ethan Clarke, a graduate student said, "We see it time and time again, if it looks like your candidate isn't going to win, you don't even bother trying. It's hard enough to even get the ability to mail-in ballots. If they're going to take away our ability to just walk down the hall and vote, I think we're good as gone."
Universities and schools are common polling places because they’re big enough to accommodate large numbers of voters and are well-known in the community.
However, as an alternative, Isaac said there are other options like voting by mail or the option of having universities bus students to polling locations.
If the bill gets passed, it goes into effect on Sept.1.
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